Ritchey: Summertime blues
I love summer. Love love love it. Part reptile, part human, I’m one of those weird people who is happiest when it’s the hottest. In fact, my wife often ridicules me when she sees me out mowing the yard at 3 p.m. on a 106-degree day while drinking my cup of hot Starbucks coffee. At times like this, I’m in my element; I wish it could remain that way all year.
But there’s a downside to summer, and that’s the fact that one day it must end. The initial excitement and optimism of early summer starts giving way to gloom and depression earlier than I’d like. Sadly, we’ve already come upon the home stretch of summer. To that end, I want to outline my Six Stages of Summer Grieving that I experience each and every year. A hopeless optimist and perpetually of good cheer, I am embarrassed that I allow myself to entertain such negative thoughts; nevertheless, they are there, and I must admit and confront them if I am to move forward with my life. Perhaps it can help you as well, dear reader.
Stage 1: Summer Solstice. Hooray! Even though it’s the official first day of summer, I’m sad because from that day forward, the days start getting shorter. Sneakily, insidiously, the daylight betrays me, hoping I don’t notice. I do.
Stage 2: Fourth of July. Woohoo! Fireworks, patriotism, Grandma’s apple pie, extra time off work! What a great time to enjoy friends, family, food and explosions, just as our Founding Fathers wanted us to do. But ugh!
That means that summer break is halfway over. Not precisely, but it might as well be. My sadness deepens. Where did June go?
Stage 3. Leavenworth County Fair. Yippee! Carnival rides, exhibits, blue ribbons, fly covered cows and funnel cakes. What a great opportunity for the community to get together and celebrate its shared humanity, honoring our youngsters for their hard work with their animal and their craft projects. And to gorge on funnel cakes. But the Fair means that school is just around the corner, in the on-deck circle, which is where we currently stand. Anguish begins to arise and percolate through every cell in my body, and all the funnel cakes in the world can’t make it better.
Stage 4. School Starts. Education is good. Learning is important. Blah blah blah. I get it. I’m one of education’s biggest fans. But folks, the grim reality is that summer break is over, even though it’s technically still summer. There’s no good way to spin this one. Gloom descends like a cloud.
Stage 5. Labor Day. Yay! A day off! One last trip to the lake, mowing frequency is diminishing and it’s football season. However, the days are becoming noticeably shorter and the calendar reads “September.” I can almost feel the howling winter jet stream bearing down upon me. I shiver. And say naughty words.
Stage 6. The Cutting of the Corn Stalks. One day they are there, standing proudly in the field, photosynthesizing away, reminding us that it is still the season of growing, the season of life. The next day, boom! Corn stalk carnage everywhere, with their shattered lifeless remains spread maliciously and haphazardly throughout the corn cemetery. The end is near. The new ice age has officially begun. A solitary tear rolls down my cheek. O Summer! Where is thy heat?
I wish humans could hibernate.
— Ritchey is a Tonganoxie dentist.